DEFRA hosts summit to help cash-strapped farmers

DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson is hosting a farm business summit aimed at helping farmers struggling to cope with the impact of bad weather.

Major banks, farming charities and farming representatives will meet at 4pm on Wednesday 8 May for the summit at DEFRA’s headquarters in London.

Experts in banking, farming, insurance and business are expected to discuss ways to improve farmers’ access to financial support already available and to find new ways to help improve their businesses’ resilience.

Representatives from HSBC, Lloyds, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, the NFU, The Prince of Wales’ Countryside Fund and The Addington Fund will be among those attending the meeting.

Over the past 12 months, bad weather has heaped pressure on farmers and left many facing financial ruin.

The summit has been called to help banks and farmers understand and respond to future business risks and opportunities which will help to grow the rural economy.

“We should be proud of the fantastic job our farmers do, but this last year has been particularly tough,” said Mr Paterson, speaking ahead of the summit.

“Farming contributes a huge amount to our environment and our economy. We want to ensure that farmers are able to deal with challenges like bad weather, to grow their businesses, create new jobs and help the country compete in the global race.”

Last month DEFRA unveiled a £250,000 package to help snow-hit farmers in England meet the cost of removing dead carcasses from their farms after almost 50,000 farm animals perished in the March snowstorms.

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has pledged £5m in emergency aid and the Scottish government has released £6.5m. However, the Welsh government has so far refused to offer financial aid for snow-hit farmers.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund has also launched a public appeal to raise funds for British farmers struggling in the wake of the snow crisis.

More on this topic

OPINION: Elizabeth Elder finds spirit of resilience in face of crisis

See more